Study Finds Obesity Could Cost Contra Costa More than $1 Billion
July 9, 2009
Rising obesity rates could cost Contra Costa County more than $1.3 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity, according to a study released today by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (CCPHA).
The report shows a 33 percent rise in obesity rates statewide and the reported economic impact of being overweight, obese and physically inactive has nearly doubled, now costing California as a whole an estimated $41 billion a year. An update of a 2000 report, this study breaks down the costs by county to allow local policy makers, business and community leaders, and community residents to know the economic effect of these three conditions in their geographic areas.
Obesity is a troubling epidemic, said Dr. Wendel Brunner, Public Health Director with Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS), Contra Costa's public health system.
"With the epidemic of obesity we are seeing an increase in risks for heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that if current trends continue, as many as one out every five children today will grow up to have type II diabetes. Such health problems are devastating to the community and significantly drive up health care costs," Brunner said "However, this analysis shows that if we can reduce obesity by even a small amount, it can have a significant benefit. This is why it is important to put resources into programs that help prevent and reduce obesity."
The CCHS NEW (Nutrition, Exercise, and Wellness) Kids Program in Pittsburg and Concord works with overweight children, their families and day-care providers to change the eating and exercise patterns of the whole family. NEW Kids is a partnership with the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District.
"To effectively slow down the epidemic of obesity, we have to change the environment to encourage families to make health choices," Brunner said.
CCHS also is involved in the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) collaborative in West County, which is working with communities, schools, business and health providers to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the community. The City of Richmond has developed a Health and Wellness element to its General Plan that will encourage the building of walkable neighborhoods, bike paths, access to healthy food, and safe parks and play grounds.
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